CHRISTIANS in Nigeria have rejected the new Companies and Allied Matters Act (CAMA) 2020 and called on President Muhammadu Buhari to return the document to the National Assembly to expunge a section they considered offensive to their interests.
In a statement on Thursday in Abuja, the Special Assistant (Media & Communications) to the president of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), Pastor Adebayo Oladeji, described the Act as a time bomb.
He noted that while the association was not against government fighting corruption, it completely rejected the idea of grouping the church among NGOs, under government control.
CAN described the Act, recently assented to by the President, as “unacceptable, ungodly, reprehensible and an ill wind that would blow no one any good.”
Section 839 (1) & (2) of the Act empowers the Commission to suspend trustees of an association (the church inclusive) and appoint interim managers to manage the affairs of the association.
CAN alleged that the Act was a declaration of war on Christianity and the Federal Government should not implement it until religious institutions were exempted from it.
The association asked the Federal Government to return the law to the National Assembly for immediate amendment in order to avert trouble in the country.
Oladeji argued that Nigeria should not be compared with any other nation in the relationship between religious institutions and government.
“The church cannot be controlled by government because of its spiritual responsibilities and obligations. We recall that during the first term of the President, there was a public hearing conducted by the National Assembly on the Non-Governmental Organisations Bill, tagged ‘‘Bill for an Act To Provide For The Establishment of the Non-Governmental Organisations Regulatory Commission for the Supervision, Co-ordination and Monitoring of Non-Governmental Organisations,” which was attended by CAN and many NGOs.”
He recalled that at the public hearing, the Bill that sought to bring religious organisations and NGOs under the control of government was rejected because it would rank the church as a secular institution under secular control.
“What was the essence of the public hearing you called us to attend when you had made up your mind not to consider the position of Christians at all, which we presented during the public hearing,” he asked
The inclusion of the controversial section, he said, came as a surprise because CAN thought it was expunged until the Act was made public after the President’s assent.
He stated: “How can government sack trustees of a church, which it contributed no dime to establish? How can a secular and political minister be final authority on the affairs and management of another institution, which is not political? For example, how can a non-Christian head of government’s ministry be the one to determine the running of the church? It is an invitation to trouble that the government does not have power to manage.
“Let the government face the business of providing infrastructure for the people. Let them focus on better health provision, food, education, adequate security, employment, etc. The government should not be a busybody in a matter that does not belong to it. The government does not have the technical expertise to run the church of God because of its spiritual nature.”
Oladeji warned that if government insists on imposing the law on the church, it meant a declaration of war on Christianity and a plan to destroy the church.
“If you cannot give us good amenities of life, we would not allow you to take away our liberty to worship our maker,” he added.
He called on Christians to prevail on the Federal Government to suspend the law because it was not needed in the country, further describing the Act as anti-democratic and a way to dictatorship.